It was a pretty disappointing week in some political respects for me. I know I’m coming a bit late to the party in reacting to the State of the Union address, but I actually have a life and sometimes it gets in the way of regular blogging. Actually, it wasn’t that bad of an address from what I read (I didn’t want to watch it, figured I can read it a whole lot faster) but there were a few things that I thought should be more taken advantage of.
Every year of my presidency, we’ve reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Only $14 billion? Out of a $2.6 trillion budget? Here’s what he should have proposed:
“Tonight I call on Congress to fix our budgetary mess. Our deficit spending has two causes: one is the rapid growth of entitlement spending, as by 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget.
The other cause is a process Congress uses called baseline budgeting. It allows those in the opposition party to call a smaller increase in spending on a program a ‘cut.’ Congress needs to pass legislation to return our country to a true budget. Instead of programs automatically increasing in size, it would help keep the growth of government in check to start from the previous year’s budgetary numbers, and truly make a cut in a program a reduction in spending.” (The italics were from his actual speech.)
I will say that I’m glad he’s going to try to push Social Security reform this year. Of course, my idea of reform would be to sunset it and the FICA tax eventually, but no one has the balls in Congress to propose that. It’s not quite the “third rail” of politics that it used to be, but it’s still a program with a whole lot of votes attached to it – and no one really wants to piss off the AARP lobby. (Another reason I’d never be elected to Congress. But that’s the country’s loss.)
But this “bipartisan commission” crap has got to go. Here’s my idea of a bipartisan commission – find the closest Democrat to the philosophy of Zell Miller, and he’s your one Democrat. Kennedy, Pelosi, Kerry, and Reid need not apply. I seem to recall that the GOP has the majority in both houses of Congress and is in the White House. Do you think if a Democrat was in charge that (s)he would want a bipartisan solution and listen to conservatives? Yeah, right, I have some land in Florida to sell you too.
Our government has a responsibility to provide health care for the poor and the elderly…
Well, really, President Bush, no it doesn’t. That implies health care is a right, and I don’t see that in my copy of the Constitution. Now, if the states want to have a crack at it (as several do) that’s perfectly all right. But that statement just reeks of entitlement, and my view is we need to get rid of as much federal government in that as we can!
So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy…
What is wrong with the private sector doing this kind of research? Why is it up to the government to pick out the most promising programs? Unfortunately, a lot of government research turns out to be stuff like why people can’t sell ice to Eskimos. And wasn’t the Department of Energy something that the Contract with America talked about cutting out?
I don’t have a problem with the goal of the program, although I think we can do a whole lot to cut our dependence on foreign oil in the short-to-medium term by exploring and getting oil out of the ANWR area. Eventually other technology will supplant oil just as natural gas supplanted coal, which succeeded wood for being the main source for heating the home.
Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science.
First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.
Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We’ve made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of this. It’s a good idea, but, once again, why has it become a federal responsibility to do this? And where do we get the money to pony up for all this stuff?
I suppose the State of the Union address has just become a speech on how we’re going to spend more of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money on keeping bureaucrats busy granting money to the people who write grant applications the best and suck up to the right people. *sigh* What a disappointment.
Then came the other disappointment this week, as the House voted to elect Rep. John Boehner as House Majority Leader. Many conservatives (including me) were hoping for Rep. John Shadegg to win, but he lost after the first round of voting with just 40 votes. So count me as not sold on this new leadership. But if Boehner can shepherd needed legislation through the House (keeping the moderate RINO’s in line) and puts enough of a new face on the party to minimize the effects from the ethics scandal (now that’s bipartisanship in action!) then he may well turn out to be a good choice.
Maybe he can get some of the things President Bush forgot to mention in the SOTU like getting serious about slowing the growth of government through the House. Then all we need are Senators with some cajones.